What are skidders?

A skidder is a type of heavy vehicle used in a logging operation for pulling cut trees out of a forest.

What are the dangers associated with defective skidders?

The skidder operator is exposed to numerous environmental hazards. The defect with skidders manufactured prior to 1991 is that the occupant's protective system leaves the operator vulnerable to being seriously injured by objects in the woods. They were built and sold without doors. As a result the operator was exposed to is being struck and seriously or fatally injured by trees or other saplings while skidding.

In the 1970s and 1980s, 40 percent of all injuries and deaths suffered by skidder operators were caused by objects, such as limbs, entering the doorway. During this timeframe, more than 50 loggers a year suffered injury or death from intrusion accidents.

The manufacturer's and industry's decision not to protect skidder operations in the 1970s and 1980s is amazing when you consider SAE recommendations relative to skidders. In 1975, SAE, a group of engineers, adopted J1084, which recommended that all skidders be equipped with full forestry protective systems which included side protection or doors.

Manufacturers actually had engineers who voted to adopt J1084 as a recommended practice. Remarkably, although the industry's engineers acknowledged the need to fully protect skidder operators, the industry continued to vote throughout the 1970s and 1980s against adopting J1084 as a design standard which would require manufacturers to equip safety doors on skidders as standard features.

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